Conflict in Colours: A comparative study of republican and loyalist murals in Belfast

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


Republican and Loyalist Murals in Belfast Abstract Conflict in Colours is a book about the role of cultural violence in maintaining and transferring conflict situations by investigating republican and loyalist murals in Belfast during the Troubles and the Northern Irish peace process. During several decades, the people of Northern Ireland have endured warlike situations before the peace agreement in 1998. This doctoral thesis examines the ways/how cultural violence has a crucial part in conveying and sustaining a situation that is characterised as neither an open conflict, nor a harmonic state of affairs. This is the first study in which republican and loyalist traditions of mural are analysed and compared over time and space. The analysis has three levels; how competing historical narratives has explained the today and futures outlined through them; how the visual elements of the murals have impacted the explanation presented by the narratives; and, finally, how the cultural violence of the narrative has projected the identity as a victim of the other party and framed violence as defense and protection. The murals’ narratives are compared within and across symbolic landscapes. They show both similarities and differences regarding spaces in Belfast, highlighting differing narrations of Northern Ireland yesterday and today. To the dissident republicans, the Troubles is still ongoing. The mainstream republicans narrate the present as the imminent unification of Ireland. To the loyalists, the Irish occupy Northern Ireland, and the final battle is upon them. Both republican and loyalist murals illustrate how cultural violence is embedded into the fabric of identities and sociocultural structures, thereby giving individuals certain positions in society as heroes. Power within the identities and political power are determined by cultural violence, more often than not as a result of how individuals frame themselves as protectors and defenders of the communities. The thesis also shows how cultural violence impacts today’s narration and the continued narration of the Northern Irish government as untrustworthy, cultural violence in the narratives has, and continues to, impede the efforts to build a shared Northern Ireland.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • History
  • Zander, Ulf, Supervisor
  • Trenter, Cecilia, Assistant supervisor, External person
Award date2021 Dec 3
Place of PublicationLund university
ISBN (Print)978-91-89213-94-4
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov 5

Bibliographical note

Defence details
Date: 2021-12-03
Time: 13:15
Place: LUX C121
External reviewer
Name: Sara Dybris McQuaid
Title: lektor
Affiliation: Aarhus universitet

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • History

Free keywords

  • Northern Ireland
  • the Troubles
  • Historical Narrative
  • Cultural violence
  • Symbolic landscapes
  • Loyalism
  • Republicanism
  • Dissident republicanism
  • Cultural trauma


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